One great short story to read today: Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Day Before the Revolution”

James Folta

May 14, 2024, 10:30am

According to the powers that be (er, apparently according to Dan Wickett of the Emerging Writers Network), May is Short Story Month. To celebrate, for the second year in a row, the Literary Hub staff will be recommending a single short story, free* to read online, every (work) day of the month. Why not read along with us? Today, we recommend:

“The Day Before the Revolution,” by Ursula K. Le Guin

I love Le Guin’s writing, especially for her use of sci-fi’s speculation to imagine other politics — if we’re making up planets, spaceships, and evil empires, why not also more equitable ways of organizing ourselves? This story is set in the Hainish universe, where Le Guin’s classics The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed also take place, and follows an old anarchist reflecting on her life and her revolution. This story has all the quintessential Le Guin touches: delicate details, strange and relatable worlds beyond our own, and an honest assessment of the promises and falterings of radical, transformative political dreams.

The story begins:

The speaker’s voice was as loud as empty beer-trucks in a stone street, and the people at the meeting were jammed up close, cobblestones, that great voice booming over them. Taviri was somewhere on the other side of the hall. She had to get to him. She wormed and pushed her way among the darkclothed, close-packed people. She did not hear the words, nor see the faces: only the booming, and the bodies pressed one behind the other.

Read it here.

*If you hit a paywall, we recommend trying with a different/private/incognito browser (but listen, you didn’t hear it from us).

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